Richard Burr Steps Down From Intel Committee Following FBI Warrant; Feinstein Talks To FBI, While Loeffler Won't Say

from the insider-trading dept

Following the news that the FBI got a warrant and seized Senator Richard Burr's phone as part of its investigation into his alleged insider trading, Burr has announced that he's stepping down from being the chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, where he's long been one of the biggest boosters of the surveillance state.

Of course, some are now wondering if that's part of the reason why the Trumpian wing of the GOP have come out against Burr. Because the Senate Intel Committee has released a report confirming that Russia tried to help Trump win in 2016. The report is not particularly surprising, highlighting many widely known points. However, in Trumpland, no one seems to be able to handle the nuanced differences between the campaign directly "colluding" with Russia (for which the evidence is more limited) with the idea that Russia independently sought to boost Trump (for which the evidence is overwhelming). So, Trump supporters have been clamoring for Burr's head on a platter for merely stating facts, which are not allowed in this world where pointing out that The Emperor is Naked is somehow deemed to be heresy.

Given Attorney General Barr's recent decisions to more fully weaponize and politicize the Justice Department, it can't be dismissed out of hand that there are political reasons for the FBI's sudden interest in Burr, but it still seems like a stretch. Sooner or later it's likely that there will be some fallout from which one can better assess the validity of the warrant, and whether or not Burr was engaged in insider trading.

One point that a few people have raised is to look at whether or not the FBI is looking into any of the other Senators who sold notable chunks of stock just before the pandemic hit, though as we explained in that original story, the situations and fact patterns with each of the other Senators is at least somewhat different than Burr's case. For what it's worth, there are reports that the FBI questioned Senator Dianne Feinstein, who also sold some stock during this period. However, as we pointed out in the original post, there's little indication that her sales were COVID-19 related, especially since it was mostly selling off biotech stocks (exactly the kind of stocks you'd think would go up in a pandemic).

The other Senator's selloff behavior that looked at least somewhat sketchy was Senator Kelly Loeffler, whose actions look worse and worse, as she denies things more vociferously. Just recently, she went on Fox News (natch) to claim that "this is 100% a political attack." Huh? What? You're the one who sold the stock. She also (get this) tried to blame socialism because why not?

This gets at the very heart of why I came to Washington, to defend free enterprise, to defend capitalism. This is a socialist attack.

Who knew that insider trading was "free enterprise"?

Either way, while Burr has had to hand over his phone and Feinstein had to answer questions from the FBI... Loeffler simply refuses to say whether or not the FBI has reached out to her. If it does turn out that the FBI has investigated the others, but left Loeffler entirely alone (whether or not her sales were aboveboard), that's certainly going to be some evidence to add to the pile that the focus on Burr was just as much political as it was about the legal issues at play.

Update: After this story was completed, Loeffler's office announced that she had handed documents over to the SEC and DOJ along with the Senate Ethics Committee. It's unclear if the DOJ/FBI asked for anything or if she just did this proactively. Just a few days ago, there was a report saying that her team was considering doing exactly this as a "hail mary" to try to get out ahead of this story that she can't seem to get rid of, and which appears to be having an impact on her campaign to retain the office that she was gifted a few months ago.

Filed Under: dianne feinstein, doj, fbi, insider trading, intelligence community, investigations, kelly loeffler, politics, richard burr, russia, russian election interference, senate intelligence committee


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 8:16pm

    "It's not insider trading if I do it outside the building"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 8:38pm

    Right wing transnational socialism has proven to be a disease.

    Russia has every right to try to help Trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 5:06am

      Re:

      "Right wing transnational socialism"

      What is this? More silly right wing conspiracy trash?

      More like a multinational, wealth inspired, attempt to squash any labor organizing, which is of course the true source of all that is evil in this world and it must be stopped at all costs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 8:44pm

    Who knew that insider trading was "free enterprise"?

    Everyone? Stock trading meets any reasonable definition of "enterprise", and laws that ban insider trading obviously remove some freedom from the traders. One could certainly argue the laws support fair enterprise, that they have good effects overall, but even then, a good minority of (non-crackpot) scholars say insider trading should be legal.

    Of course, it's important that lawmakers not be above the law, and also that laws are not enforced based on vendettas. This does look very sketchy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 8:53pm

      Re:

      There is an easy solution to that - investigate everyone in Congress in response - ensuring that there can be no favortism only guilt or innocence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 11:46pm

        Re: Re:

        i usually search for ...

        *how to kill the president

        *cheapest nuclear detenators

        *children under 11 ... only

        *free drugs, worse than free energy?

        *do not stay at home, for any reason

        *did i mention shooting trump

        ///howto - delete browsing history

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 5:09am

        Re: Re:

        Let's investigate everyone! YoooHooo its party time!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2020 @ 10:55pm

      Re:

      Look, there's just no way to regulate insider trading at scale, ok?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 5:11am

        Re: Re:

        There was this thing called a blind trust .... and you had to trust that they were not peeking. But even that slight of hand is too much for these half wits, they want it to be legal for them but not you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          even that slight of hand is too much for these half wits

          Don't get too excited, the lawmakers can use blind trusts to their advantage, too: "The tax rule, Section 1043 of the Internal Revenue Code, allows individuals who are forced to sell stock to meet federal conflict-of-interest rules to defer paying capital gains tax. … The tax provision, accounting specialists said, represents an opportunity for Mr. Paulson to use the sale to diversify his holdings without paying capital gains tax on the bulk of those Goldman shares, which have almost tripled in value since the investment bank's initial offering in May 1999. …he would have roughly $325 million in capital gains…. Deferring the 15 percent federal tax results in the $48 million break."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 4:57pm

        Re: Re:

        A few thousand people is hardly "at scale". Even less if you are only including Congress. That's 535-ish minus vacancies. More if you include non-voting members.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 5:18am

      Re:

      "Stock trading meets any reasonable definition of "enterprise", and laws that ban insider trading obviously remove some freedom from the traders."

      Sure it does, just like it is reasonable to say that price fixing, collusion and other such activity is also free enterprise. It is a bit over the top to claim that such an arrangement is ok, sorta like saying laws that ban mugging removes some freedom from muggers - it is not incorrect, but it is wrong.

      "it's important that lawmakers not be above the law"
      They do not seem to agree

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Re:

        It is a bit over the top to claim that such an arrangement is ok

        Who's saying its okay, other than Burr and friends? Even the people who think insider trading is beneficial generally support some limits on free enterprise, such as price-fixing bans.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 14 May 2020 @ 10:40pm

    Every politician should be given two terms...the first in office and the second in prison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sk, 14 May 2020 @ 10:45pm

    Loeffler has reason to feel aggrieved. First she argues that the money was independently managed (a common practice in Wall Street to mitigate insider trading). The argument seems to be that she tipped the money manager. Possible but most of the trades are for less than 250k and there are trades of that size since January which is more consistent with the manager trading independently than Loeffler trying to monetize insider knowledge on <1% of their portfolio. The only significant move appears to be divesting of ICE which is probably selling shares that are no longer restricted, to diversify. Certainly it is not obvious that a pandemic would affect ICE negatively, one would assume higher volatility would cause increased trading volumes and help ICE. Burr looks much more culpable, personally traded a large portion of net worth. There is at least smoke there if not a fire.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 5:20am

      Re:

      Nice try, but no cigar.

      Your arguments hold no water.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        TFG, 17 May 2020 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re:

        To clarify, I do not necessarily agree with the first AC's arguments. But it must be said that those arguments may, in fact, hold water.

        If you wish to claim that they don't, I suggest poking holes in them to let the water out, rather than simply unilaterally declaring that they do not hold water and assuming victory.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    127.0.0.1 (profile), 15 May 2020 @ 1:30am

    Gadzooks, methinks there be pirates off the Barrburry Coast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 15 May 2020 @ 8:25am

    For what it's worth, there are reports that the FBI questioned Senator Dianne Feinstein, who also sold some stock during this period. However, as we pointed out in the original post, there's little indication that her sales were COVID-19 related, especially since it was mostly selling off biotech stocks (exactly the kind of stocks you'd think would go up in a pandemic).

    And while I have no love for Feinstein, from what I've read her stocks were in a blind trust.

    There are still plenty of reasons to dislike her. But I don't see much evidence of corruption in her case, in this instance.

    Burr and Loeffler, on the other hand, look corrupt as fuck here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2020 @ 6:41pm

    As far as cop proofing phones, there is a mode of all Android 6.0 and above phones that allow you to set a "booby trap". as it were, where is someone tries to brute force your password, the phone will wipe itself and do a factory reset after 15 failed password attempts. If Sen Burr had a lick of sense, he would have that setting turned on to guarantee that if the Feds did try to brute force his password that the phone would wipe itself and reset after 15 failed password tries as well as encrypt his phone

    That combined with encrypted his phone would cop prof his phone

    And having those two settings turned is advisable, so that if your phone is ever seized by police for any reason, they cannot get at the contents.

    With all the crazy things that cops can arrest you for and/or seize your electronics, you need to turn these settings on, so they cannot get any dirt on you to try and muscle you into a plea deal.

    When they get your phone back the cop shop, they will not be able to get anything out of your phone because it is encrypted, and 15 failed attempts to brute force your password (if that setting it turned on), and any content they would be trying to get it will be [b]gone[/b]

    And when the phone is restarted, they will not be able to do anything becuase the phone will require your Google password to continue

    If a phone is either reset with a "hard" reset, or if that password booby trap is sprung after too many failed password attempts, the phone cannot be set up again without your Google password, meaning they will have to throw your phone in the trash because it will be useless to them when they find they cannot continue without your Google password.

    And you cannot be charged with any crime in any of Canada's 13 provinces, Mexico's 31 states, America's 50 states, or at the federal level in Canada, Mexico, or the USA, for cop proofing your phone like that. There are no criminal stautes in any of those afforementioned jurisdictions that make it illegal to cop proof your phone in that manner

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    evazoe266 (profile), 18 May 2020 @ 12:43am

    Tractorsinfo

    Utility tractors typically smaller tractors with a low centre of gravity and short turning radius, used for landscape maintenance, non-farm grading and mining purposes, especially with loaders, pallet forks, backhoes, and similar devices. https://tractorsinfo.in/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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